Mayor’s unfair fares

From Progressive London:

Boris Johnson’s New Year hangover for the capital- “Mayor hits Londoners in the pocket with fares rise”

Thursday, 01 January 2009 14:18

Tomorrow’s fare increase in London, which will see an above-inflation increase of six per cent overall and the price of a single bus journey on Oyster go up by eleven per cent – has provoked strong criticism from a cross party group. “At a time of financial crisis the Mayor should be helping Londoners by holding down fares and investing in key public services like transport – he is doing the opposite, hitting ordinary Londoners in the pocket,” said MP Jon Cruddas, former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, Assembly members Len Duvall, Jenny Jones, Darren Johnson, and Val Shawcross, and Steve Hart – regional secretary of transport union Unite, in a joint statement.

They called for the fare increase to be reversed and criticised the loss of millions of pounds of income for Transport for London since Boris Johnson became mayor which could have been used to avoid the painful rise.

In their statement the cross-party group said:

“The Mayor of London plans to raise fares by six per cent, with some increasing far more: the price of a single bus journey on Oyster will go up by 11 per cent, to £1.

“Yet at the same time the Mayor has cancelled investment to improve the city’s transport system, and is throwing away millions of pounds by cancelling measures like the planned £25-a-day charge on the worst-polluting cars, like Chelsea Tractors, in central London and taking one of the richest parts of London, Kensington and Chelsea, out of the Congestion Charging Zone.

“At a time of financial crisis the Mayor should be helping Londoners by holding down fares and investing in key public services like transport: he is doing the opposite, hitting ordinary Londoners in the pocket.

“We demand that this January’s above-inflation fare increase be cancelled.”

Bosses call for minimum wage freeze!

Times are hard. But should the minimum wage rise?

No! Say employers. Their stooge Tim Worstall, who is probably paid significantly more than the minimum wage, agrees:

It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that if you raise the price of something then people will buy less of it – and this applies to labour just as much as anything else.

Which is an argument against having a minimum wage (or the much more effective living wage). And of course, Tim is completely against the minimum wage – though, I wonder, if he found himself in a low-paid job, would he remain a devout free marketeer?

Since the terrible things forecast by Worstall’s ilk did not happen upon the implementation of the minimum wage, should we listen now?

Think of this: if we are, as consumers, cutting our spending because of soaring utility bills, etc. won’t we cut our spending even further if our wages are frozen? If so, this will exacerbate the slump in consumer spending which will lead to greater job losses in the retail and service sectors.

The question of profits is one which Worstall doesn’t adequately engage. If we think low wages are immoral, he says, we should reach into our pockets. The only problem is that morality doesn’t come into it, which Worstall should know…

I am interested in the idea of a citizens’ income, which would make life much easier for the low paid, and towards that end – the living wage campaign. These things don’t come about because workers and consumers vote with their wallets, though.

What collective mechanisms exist to raise low wages? Erm, that’d be the minimum wage. And trade unionism – currently hampered by legal restrictions.

Mind you, I’m not sure employers would accept a frozen minimum wage in exchange for the restoration of workers’ rights…

hat tip: John’s Labour blog

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